Huckabee: Gay Behavior a Choice

Mike Huckabee is coming under quite a bit of fire for some remarks he made on yesterday’s “Meet the Press” about homosexuality:

MR. RUSSERT: But this is what concerns people. This, this is what you did say about homosexuality: “I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle.” That’s millions of Americans.

GOV. HUCKABEE: Tim, understand, when a Christian speaks of sin, a Christian says all of us are sinners. I’m a sinner, everybody’s a sinner. What one’s sin is, means it’s missing the mark. It’s missing the bull’s eye, the perfect point. I miss it every day; we all do. The perfection of God is seen in a marriage in which one man, one woman live together as a couple committed to each other as life partners. Now, even married couples don’t do that perfectly, so sin is not some act of equating people with being murderers or rapists…

MR. RUSSERT: But when you say aberrant or unnatural, do you believe you’re born gay or you choose to be gay?

GOV. HUCKABEE: I don’t know whether people are born that way. People who are gay say that they’re born that way. But one thing I know, that the behavior one practices is a choice. We may have certain tendencies, but how we behave and how we carry out our behavior–but the important issue that I want to address, because I think when you bring up the faith question, Tim, I’ve been asked more about my faith than any person running for president. I’m OK with that. I hope I’ve answered these questions very candidly and very honestly. I think it’s important for us to talk about it. But the most important thing is to find out, does our faith influence our public policy and how? I’ve never tried to rewrite science textbooks. I’ve never tried to come out with some way of imposing a doctrinaire Christian perspective in a way that is really against the Constitution. I’ve never done that.

On the surface, of course, Huckabee’s unquestionably right. People have predispositions but are responsible for their behavior. At the same time, though, the “choice” Huckabee offers gays is Hobson’s: be miserable or be a sinner.

Jeff Fecke‘s summary is apt: “Mike Huckabee thinks that God may have made homosexuals the way they are, and therefore, you’d best keep your legs crossed until death.” Or, as Steve Benen puts it, “So, Huckabee doesn’t actually care if someone is gay, he cares whether or not gays are celibate.” “No sex for you!” indeed.

Now, as Ficke acknowledges, “Huckabee thinks all sex outside of marriage is sinful. He just doesn’t think homosexuals should be able to ever get married. At least to each other.” That’s a Catch-22, to be sure.

On the other hand, this view represents majority opinion in the United States. In a recent Pew survey, 55 percent agreed that “it is a sin to engage in homosexual behavior” and 59 percent opposed gay marriage. The numbers were much higher (76 percent and 80 percent, respectively) for those with “a high level of religious commitment.”

There’s a difference, though, between attitude and public policy. Marriage, at least as currently practiced, is conferred by state action and therefore a policy matter. Sin, by contrast, is a purely religious matter, although there is undoubtedly an overlap between what a society considers sinful and what it makes illegal.

Matt Corley notes that “Huckabee has a record of using the power of government to discriminate against the choices that gay Americans make in their private lives.” The degree to which he would be empowered to do that as president is debatable; most of these policies are at the state and local level and any federal policy would require the consent of Congress — and likely a supermajority in the Senate.

Huckabee’s forthright expression on this issue will likely help him with a large part of the Republican nominating electorate. None of the other major GOP candidates are quite so outspoken on the issue. One would think, though, that it would hurt him in the general election in the (in my judgment unlikely) event he won the nomination.

Interestingly, though, none of the top tier Democrats support gay marriage — the most significant related issue that has reached the federal agenda — either.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, 2008 Election, Blogosphere, Congress, Gender Issues, LGBTQ Issues, Religion, US Constitution, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Expakistani says:

    Religious people corrupt the politcal process. Their goals are not the same as the goals of any democratic society. This is the exact same phenomenon which I witnessed in Pakistan 22 years ago. Look at Pakistan now; broken; dysfunctional; marching proudly towards the dark ages. Praise the lord, his will is done; kids are dying; women are raped; men are killed; salvation is attained.

    It is time to learn from the mistakes that were made by those who came before us.

  2. Bob Waters says:

    Not quite.

    The historic Christian faith teaches that we are all sinners. And pretty much any system of ethics
    worthy of anyone’s respect teaches that seldenial can be a good thing.

    The issue here is that you think homosexual behavior is ethically neutral, and Huckabee does not. So stop trying to make it sound like Huckabee is a yahoo who thinks homosexual orientation is a matter of choice. Orientation and behavior are two different things- and most grownups, whatever they think of homosexual behavior, understand that indulging in behavior we might find pleasant isn’t always a morally or practically viable decision.

    In short, this post is a dishonest attempt to get people to think that Huckabee has taken a position he hasn’t. It’s beneath you.

  3. Tlaloc says:

    It is amusing to watch these people scrabble from one rationalization for their bigotry to the next. Bob demonstrates this nicely.

  4. Connie says:

    Huckabee’s forthright expression on this issue will likely help him with a large part of the Republican nominating electorate.

    I’m not so sure that’s true. The base may be mostly Christian, but it is also mostly fiscally conservative and very suspicious of Huckabee’s record as Governor of Arkansas.

    I am also sensing a growing irritation with Mike Huckabee’s over-the-top mix of religion and politics and with his constant whining about any negativity toward him being about his religion – which it is not, but might be by the end of this race. I’m a Christian as well and think Huckabee is doing more damage to Christianity in this country than the ACLU. A trip around the blogosphere proves that. Not only is Huckabee ticking off the usual suspects, but also across-the-board conservatives who are non-Evangelical Christians.

    Frankly, I find Huckabee to be disingenuous in manner, dishonest about his stint as governor, and a nanny-stater with an interest in growing the federal government for his pet projects. He is exceedingly naive about foreign affairs, and considering the fact that foreign affairs is one of the few responsibilities given to the feds, that’s a huge minus for him.

  5. James Joyner says:

    So stop trying to make it sound like Huckabee is a yahoo who thinks homosexual orientation is a matter of choice.

    Actually, that’s exactly what Huckabee seems to be saying: “I don’t know whether people are born that way. People who are gay say that they’re born that way.”

    But my post is entirely about his comments on stopping homosexual behavior.

  6. floyd says:

    I assume you think one is enough?[lol]
    BTW; I like your use of the word “scrabble”!
    It conjures up images of “indiscriminate” letters randomly hurled at a page without consideration, unfortunately an all too common practice.

    So let’s get to the set-to!!

  7. Steve says:

    Huck should have done better here. Pedophilia and homosexuality aren’t the same, but they’re close and often intertwined. Homosexuality is a grave sin and that’s the simple truth.

  8. just me says:

    Pedophilia and homosexuality aren’t the same, but they’re close and often intertwined.

    Whole other debate but how are they “often” entertwined.

    I think this is a huge generalization to make, and at the very least this kind of statement should come with some kind of research to back it up.

    But honestly I am not really sure beyond various headlines this is an opinion that does much to hurt or help Huckabee when it comes to the primary.

  9. Tlaloc says:

    Pedophilia and homosexuality aren’t the same, but they’re close and often intertwined.

    Well somewhere between 70-85% of molestation victims are girls. Virtually all molesters are men. Do the math.

  10. bob says:

    huck may be right

    his press conference yesterday was pretty gay, and it was his choice

  11. Dan says:

    It is funny all the arguments against gay marriage being primarily arguing whether homosexuality is moral or not.

    One of the foremost points of marriage is protecting children. The number of gay people with children is huge(obviously only one guardian, at most, is the biological parent). Not allowing gay marriage will not reduce the number of children gay people bring up -only leave those children somewhat exposed legally. Families should be protected so we need gay marriage to do it.

    The morality of homosexuality is a red herring in arguments. Compare it to interracial marriage being considered immoral by some. The arguments of people who say that mean nothing. The point is the relationships, and so the families, exist and should be protected legally.

    The only alternative is to prevent gay people having children and the tactics necessary to do that were abandoned in this part of the world after the world wars. It would be abhorrent to even try. The urge to procreate is independent of orientation. Children of gay people deserve a loving married couple as their care givers.